Monday, November 28, 2011

An Anniversary and Knitting Progress

Yesterday was Daddy’s birthday; today was their wedding anniversary.  I was told that they planned a birthday wedding but an autumn snowstorm prevented their travelling to Clovis, so the wedding was postponed for a day.  They were married in the living room of her sister’s house there, with her sister and brother-in-law as witnesses.  It was 1931, the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl.  There are no pictures of the wedding itself although they did have a very nice formally posed wedding portrait taken after the fact.  However, there is one snapshot taken the morning after the wedding.  I think it was at the country home of Mama’s parents.


There are certainly more attractive pictures of them about the same time period—photos that hint of fun and a little bit of mystery, like this one:


Or this one:


However, when my dad knew that he was terminally ill, it was that first snapshot in the overalls that he asked for and insisted on having it propped up where he could see it.

Knitting Progress:


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Expensive Pizza

Have you ever heard the old story that says that “dog bites man” is not necessarily news, but “man bites dog” is?

Yesterday was one of those times.  We decided we wanted pizza for lunch.  Pizza Hut pizza.  For us, that decision entails a 35 mile drive, one way.  With gas prices, that alone adds significantly to the price of a pizza, but we often go to this neighboring town to pick up items we can’t get here, and I did save significantly on the mops and broom that I needed.

I should also add that the winds yesterday were about 35 mph, with stronger gusts.  There was also blowing dust due to the lack of rain.  Neither of these situations is unusual for us.  In the Panhandle if you stayed home on every windy day, you would be a hermit.

Uneventful trip until we got to town and turned north on the street to Pizza Hut, directly into the wind.  One of those signboards made out of fairly heavy plywood flats hinged together on the top blew away from the parking lot where it was sitting and cartwheeled sideways in front of us.  We could not dodge due to traffic, but my DH did hit the brakes and slow us down significantly.  The bottom corner of the sign, which was now on top, hit the passenger side of our car directly behind the headlight, causing a very deep, but fairly small dent.  However, another few inches and it would have been on top of the hood and probably through the windshield.  The headlight wasn’t even broken.  We were very thankful.  And I would just like to point out that this was one case where “I was just driving down the road and that sign just jumped out and hit me” was the absolute truth and not a joke.

Deniability—I have been avoiding my current knitting project because I thought I really messed up the last row of the lace portion.  Last night, I gathered my courage—after you’ve escaped a wayward sign, what’s a little yarn—and checked and counted.  It appears that everything is ok, so I’m moving on to garter stitch today.  (Sigh of Relief)

BTW, the pizza was particularly delicious.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner Surprise

Considering all the preparation involved in preparing a Thanksgiving dinner, how do you have a surprise?  The story is long.  I usually have the family Thanksgiving at our house, but things are in disarray this year, so we were to have it at my daughter’s home in Amarillo on the 19th.  The early date was because of a family member who needed to be elsewhere on the Day.  Beginning the weekend before, however, the three little girls in the family began getting ill with a respiratory virus involving several contagious days with temp, general misery, and in one case, 7 nights of what we old timers describe as croup.  So did the doctor.  One mom spent all those nights holding the little one in a recliner beside a vaporizer before acquiring the illness herself.  Our plans were cancelled, then half-revived before being cancelled again.  On Wednesday, the mom was feeling much better, but no one was in the mood to thaw a turkey and make dressing so we gave up.  I did, however, drive to Amarillo on Thanksgiving morning to visit my son and to take care of some postponed family business.  Then conversations about lunch ensued.  Then we called my daughter’s house and examined what local restaurants were open.  At 10:55 or so, to beat the crowd, we hit the parking lot of a local tourist/Route 66 hotspot—The Big Texan—the place that presents pseudo Old West, tourist style, nailhead studded purse, big haired, mounted longhorn and buffalo head Texas at its finest.  Locals have a more mixed reaction—we enjoy the fun with a somewhat tongue-in-cheek reaction to the tourists.  As my 5 year old son remarked the first time he visited and looked over the Stetson, chaps, and boots-clad waiter, “Mom, these cowboys don’t smell right.”  It was true—they didn’t smell anything like the real cowboys at lunch in the Tasty Cream back home—no eau de manure and horse sweat.

On Thanksgiving, the usual atmosphere was missing, or was probably actually there, but invisible behind the crowd.  The enormous parking lot was entirely full; we elbowed our way through the crowd to the registration desk, where my SIL was given one of those round flashy things and a promise of a 10 minute wait.  The wonderfully kitschy curio shop was SRO.  I finally became claustrophobic, squeezed out on the porch to a bench, and texted my family.  We stayed out there for 1 hr. and 15 minutes before getting a table.  SIL said that by the time the hostess flashed his device, there was also a lengthy waiting list for flashers.  I am afraid the children got to see almost nothing of the charm of the place.  It was waaaay too crowded.  The food, however, was excellent.  Lots of raw veggie choices, fruit choices, a green bean casserole, sweet and mashed potatoes, dressing, giblet gravy, and a very moist and delicious turkey, and, of course, in Texas, juicy roast beef.  The amazingly efficient waiter—no chaps, but hat, boots, and western shirt—kept our beverages topped off and brought pumpkin or pecan pie.  In spite of the fact that a couple of members of the family missed out, and I’m really sorry about that, we managed to have a lot of fun!

And, instead of doing tons of dishes and disposing of that messy turkey carcass, we spent the afternoon and evening doing this:

Yep, my DD and SIL painted their hall, and then “we” hung paintable bead board texture on the bottom.  I did the pasting.  This is a very short video because it was supposed to be a still picture.  I’m still getting acquainted with my IPhone.  Today, they completed the painting and the chair rail trim. 

I took knitting and managed 3 rows of a plain stockinette sock. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

At this time of year, I’m so thankful for the blessings of God and family and friends and country!

Thanksgiving Plate

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Hat Project


Pictured above is a bed full of the 337 hats donated to Hats for Sailors.  (The button for the Ravelry group is in the sidebar.)  These hats are part of an ongoing project to supply hats for U.S. Navy personnel to wear in their off-duty hours aboard ship.  This batch is going to the U.S.S. Ingraham, and there are enough excess hats to send to a smaller ship. 

I needed to order something from Knit Picks this morning, so I ordered yarn for the next round of hats.  Navy requirements are that the yarn be 100% wool (fire regs) and washable.  I have no local sources for superwash, so I ordered some Swish.  This past go-round, I knit only one hat—gray, front row, third from right—(I know it looks small, but it is very squashy and stretchy.)  This time, I am going for four.  I have some other patterns chosen in addition to my favorite Jacques Cousteau, and I’ll be knitting three different blues and a dark red, some DK, some worsted.  You can check the blog or the Ravelry group for more information and for patterns and yarn sources.  If you have some washable wool in your stash, or if you can buy some, this is a quick project to give a warm hug to some of our military.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Cultural Experiences and a Knitting Start

Today is Friday, my usual hamburger-at-the-drive-in day, a real celebration in retirement, particularly when I have been marathon knitting and waiting for the plumber.  We, however, did something small town exciting.  We went to the new Thai/Chinese restaurant.  It is tiny—10 tables—and located in a former office building tucked in behind a gas station across the side street to the grocery store, but it is there, and it is neither a hamburger place or a Mexican restaurant.  (We have had 2 of the former and 3 of the latter, and that’s been it for quite awhile.  If you don’t count the pizza/gas station/convenience store/coffee shop.)  I had very acceptable chicken fried rice, and we visited with some people we hadn’t seen in awhile.

I also had a package in the mail. 


These are the lucets I plan to use with my granddaughters.  I bought them from n Sistermaide on etsy.  Her service was very quick, especially considering that she made these up especially for me.  These are the medium size, and I included a regular size paper clip so you could judge the size.  After I finish posting, I am going to try one out.  The reason I have this many is so that I can fix up a little kit to share this fiber experience with my granddaughters.

I have also begun deadline project number 3. 


Please notice that I have blotted out the name.  That is on purpose.  If you’ve knitted it, you may recognize the charts.  Unlike the other project knitting, this one starts with 545 stitches and gets smaller.  I had been reading comments on the pattern and felt rather sympathetic when one knitter said that the cast on and first row took her 2 hours.  Ha!  I spent almost 3.  Part of the trouble is that this was suggested as a backward loop cast on, and that kind of cast on is always painfully slow for me to knit off the first time.  I also took the time to add markers between every repeat.  I will only need those for the first 13 or so rows, so that should help.  I am also getting faster at adding the beads.  This is probably the last picture you will see until the project is completed and gifted.

Random Updates

Number 2 of 3 knitting-with-deadline projects is finished! 

Number 3 will be OTN today!

I also finished another first—my first library-downloaded Kindle book.  I had been neglecting Kindle in favor of a totally audio diet so that I could put in knitting time.  This week, however, I did read Shock Wave, the new Virgil Flowers novel by John Sandford.  The library did not have the audio available.  I suspect that all libraries are slighting audio budgets right now to beef up ebook selections, and that is totally understandable.  I just hope the disparity evens out soon.  I know there are people who can read and knit, but I’m not one of them.  It was really nice, though, to be able to use my Kindle 2, my most comfortable reader, to read a free library book.  It was also good to be able to do an immediate check in when I finished so that the book would be available for someone else.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Wow, Mom!

I came across this item in some family “junk” that we were cleaning out this week.

A No. 132 Hohner Marine Band Harmonica, in its original case.  This item is a keeper, not because I play it, but because of the story.

My grandmother passed away when I was in college, right before I was leaving for a summer abroad, so when her home was cleaned out, I was 6000 miles away.  A few boxes were put in storage in some other property.  Several years later, that property sold, and as a young adult, I came home to help my parents clean out the storage.  In a chest, we found this harmonica.  At the time, my mother was, I suppose, in her late sixties.  She grabbed the instrument with delight and began playing.  I won’t say that she was the most talented harmonica player I had ever heard, but she was the best I had ever heard in person.  The most amazing thing, though, is that I had never ever heard her play or heard her mention that she had played. 

Just a reminder that we never quite know another person as well as we think we do!

WIP—acreage still expanding

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Grandmother Help Needed!

Last Monday would have been my Grandma Carrie’s 123rd birthday.  I suppose that put me in a reflective mood and gave me a nudge toward something I had been thinking about.  I learned to sew mostly from watching my mother, from a Singer sewing class when I was in upper elementary, and from Home Economics classes in high school back in the days of the lined, tailored wool suit with the hair canvas and padding stitches and bound buttonholes.  However, my interest in some of the needlework arts came from hours spent with my grandmother when I was very, very small.  By the time I was in upper elementary, she had a stroke which affected her ability to sew and do handwork beyond rudimentary mending and button sewing, but when I was little, I sat at her knee while she embroidered and crocheted.  My mother was perfectly capable of these tasks, but much too busy with a home, a child, and helping in my father’s business.

From Grandma, I learned how to cross stitch, embroider French knots, and outline stitch.  I learned some of the basics of crochet—chaining, single crochet, and making a circle.  (She insisted that I use only yarn and bone hooks because the extremely fine hooks she used for lace were considered too dangerous.  She was convinced I would stick one in my finger and then it would have to be pushed all the way through like a fish hook to cut the end off and get it out.)

Eventually, I learned a little more crochet as a teenager from watching my mother crochet afghans after she retired.  I still have not attempted crocheted lace, but my next knitting project will use one of those fine needles handed down from my grandmother to place beads in my first beaded lace project.

It seems I have rambled.  I want to begin working with my own granddaughters in teaching them some of the joys of needlework.  I have some ideas in mind, somewhat different ones since my interests and skills are a little different from my predecessors.  My situation is a little more inconvenient because I don’t live in the same town.

I am thinking of beginning with making lucet cords.  The girls are 4, 4, and 8.  I think that will give them a fast feeling of success.  My original intention was to then string pony beads on these to make bracelets, but I would welcome any other suggestions of projects that don’t take too long.  I know shoelaces would be a possibility, but I think that would take too much time at first.

I then plan to move on to potholder looms and loops.  I am reasonably sure that they will not have the finger strength to pull and finish the edges, but they should be able to manage the weaving, I think.  Even if they have lots of assistance with the weaving, they should learn a great deal about color choice.

One of the children has a fine motor issue, so I also plan at some point to introduce a prewarped Cricket loom which can be managed with a larger hand motion.

Finally, I plan to move on to knitting.  I have a couple of easy projects lined up that I think they will like. 

However, as I said, I’m going to be doing this on sort of an “in and out” basis, so any suggestions you might have will be welcome.  I won’t have the long afternoons of one-on-one that I had with my own grandmother, but I’m not in a rush either. 

WIP update:  Knitting acreage continues!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

No Picture, but Lots of Knitting

I used to harp on the overuse of the word “lot” as a lazy replacement for a more precise word describing a large amount of something, but since my current project is quite literally large, rather square, flat, and covered in furrows of garter stitch, “lot” seems appropriately descriptive.  I have managed rather more than I thought I would this week because I have been spending much of the time waiting for a plumber/handyman person who was supposed to be here on Tuesday afternoon.  That was contingent upon his mother’s being released from day surgery on time.  Since I have been in the position of having an elderly patient in day surgery before, I really did not hold out much hope for Tuesday, but I did beg off my lunchtime Bible Study just in case.  I was right. 

Wednesday was a no show also.  So was today.  I was definitely afraid not to be here in case he did come, so I just kept knitting.  At least the time has been productive. It is my understanding that he will be here tomorrow if she was released from the hospital today.  We’ll see.  I will just keep knitting.

A couple of years ago, David Reidy mentioned the Brother Cadfael mysteries as good knitting.  I really can’t remember if he was talking about the audio books or the television series.  I have already exhausted the audio books that I have access to—both of them.  However, Netflix has recently made the television series Cadfael , starring Derek Jacobi, available.  The three I’ve watched so far have been a treat, and they are great to concentrate on while knitting mindless rows of garter stitch.  If you like medieval or mysteries or good acting, have a go at these.

I will also admit to taking knitting breaks with Hanging and Angry Birds. 

Note:  I am so glad that both David and Brenda Dayne are back with podcasts.  I don’t listen to many podcasters, but I really enjoy theirs, and not just for the knitting content.  In case you are not familiar with them, David is from Australia and Brenda lives in Wales.  The different cultural backgrounds add to the charm of their programs.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

For English Teachers, Former English Teachers, and Other Lovers of the Language

I am becoming increasingly convinced that Facebook is irrevocably corrupting English grammar and syntax.  The games, in particular, seem to have difficulty with plurals, gender agreement, and common spellings.  The use of “their” as an all-purpose pronoun to avoid gender reference and ignore number is particularly irritating.  All of these are problems with the programs and the site itself—I will not even mention all of the grievous injury inflicted by users.

This afternoon, however, my technical writer daughter liked a group which I consider worth posting.  (Notice how techy I am to have used “liked” in such a with-it fashion.)  The group is devoted to the celebration and preservation of the Oxford comma.  There are a couple of interesting articles.  If you don’t know what an Oxford comma is, one is lurking in the title of this post.  Here’s the link if you wish to read the articles or merely to lend your support to such an important matter.  If you do not like Oxford commas, you will simply have to abstain or start your own group because Facebook does not yet offer a dislike button.

Friday, November 04, 2011

A Movie Review

Actually a DVD review, but not really because I watched it by electronic download indexinstead of on the DVD, but I couldn’t watch it that way until the DVD came out, so . . . .

I really liked the novel Water for Elephants, both for the main story and for the portrayal of a side of the Great Depression that is seldom written about.  I was hesitant to see the film because I was afraid I would be disappointed.  Also, I just don’t get to an actual theater very often because the distance adds a substantial amount to the ticket price.  I save my theater trips for those films that really need a BIG screen.  For other video experiences, I make use of an HD flat screen and my living room.  It’s better for knitting and watching anyway.

It turns out that I was quite pleased with this film.  The acting was great.  The cinematography managed to give me the feeling that I was there, but at the same time something about the lighting and focus reminded me of the past.  I thought the film did justice to the main story and to the storyline about the Great Depression.  Of course, in a genre-to-genre conversion of this type, detail is always left out.  The one theme that was noticeably slighted was the old-age aspect.  I missed the ongoing battle between the protagonist and the other old man in the nursing home.  However, the film was a lovely way to spend a couple of wintry hours and well worth the rental fee.  If you haven’t read the book, please do, but watch the film also.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

A Finished Project and a Prize

I did indeed finish the afghan on my deadline of November 1—at 11:23 p.m., but on the date.  I plan to wash it for wet blocking purposes, but I’m going to wait until closer to the time to wrap it for Christmas.  This is based on the Mason-Dixon Moderne Baby Blanket pattern, which, of course, is not big enough for a 6’1” man, so I modified by adding six garter row bumps to each block.  In the end, that still was not quite big enough, so I added a side band on one side and an additional bottom block.  I used PurlBee’s directions for an attached I-cord edge.  I did add one more stitch, making mine a 5-stitch edge.  Even though this method is slightly different from what I remember using before, I am generally pleased with the result.

Yarn Review:  This yarn is Patons D├ęcor, an acrylic/wool blend.  I chose it for its washability and because I could get the shadings of a monotone color family that I wanted for this project.  I like the yarn very much, but I think the price point could be better.  I also noticed a considerable difference in the feel of the different colors.  The lighter colors are fuzzier, fluffier, and you can almost swear an angora rabbit had sneaked in somewhere, although there is no shedding.  Some of the medium colors are almost silk like, but definitely not as fluffy.  Nevertheless, they work well together.  The end product is a wonderfully drapey, cuddly, comforting hug of an afghan.  The colors are specifically listed on my Ravelry page, but basically they are all of the taupe family, plus winter white and aran.  I would definitely use this yarn again, but I will check colors on Plymouth Encore first because of the Webs discount.

I have already begun a second Christmas project that I will not be posting pictures of.  My third planned project will be the same, so this is likely to be a rather dull knitting resource for awhile.  Sorry about that!  I do, however, promise to complain about any trials and tribulations I have along the way.  One of them will, I hope, be my first project using knitted-in beads.  I have established that thanks to my mother and grandmother’s hoards, I do have the required tiny crochet hook to place the beads with. 

As you can tell from the sidebar, I use Goodreads to keep track of my reading.  Occasionally, there are offers from publishers or agents or someone for advance copies of books.  Usually so many people sign up that it turns into a contest.  Well, I won:

I like historical fiction, so I am excited.  Ironically, I have made an effort in the last year or so to use the library, electronic editions from the library, an occasional kindle purchase, to save money and to cut down on clutter.  This is a hardback!  I feel as if I have a real treasure on my hands!